Achoo! Cold or Flu?

Cold/Flu, Daily Health Solutions, Healthy Living
on November 1, 2011
iStock Photo

1. The average sneeze travels at the same speed as . . .
A. a hurricane-force wind.
B. the Space Shuttle in orbit.
C. a cruise ship on the open sea.

The answer is A. One sneeze sprays tens of thousands of wet germs into the air at speeds of 80 to 100 miles per hour—as forceful as a hurricane, nearly four times faster than a cruise ship but not as fast as the Space Shuttle, which can do zero to 17,000 mph in 8 minutes.

2. Cold and flu germs survive longest on your . . .
A. hands.
B. pillowcase.
C. cell phone.

The answer is C. Germs may survive 10 hours or longer on hard surfaces such as cell phones, keyboards and TV remotes, and an hour or more on porous surfaces such as fabric. On your hands, germs stick around for about 30 minutes—less if you wash hands thoroughly with soap and water (as you should, often!).

3. Which household cleaning liquid is LEAST effective for eliminating cold and flu germs?
A. bleach
B. ammonia
C. tap water

The answer is B. Even tap water works better than ammonia for killing rhinovirus, the most common cause of colds. But your best choices are liquid bleach diluted with water or a disinfectant spray containing o-phenylphenol (OPP) and alcohol.

4. Grandma was right when she told you  . . .
A. “Feed a cold, starve a fever.”
B. “Bundle up, or you might catch a cold.”
C. “Get to bed—you need your rest.”

The answer is C. To keep colds away, aim for eight hours of sleep per night—anything less and your chances of getting sick increase. Cold weather doesn’t cause colds, although it might lower your resistance and make you more susceptible. There’s nothing to the feed-a-cold-starve-a-fever thing (or vice versa), but warm liquids can help soothe symptoms.

5. Protect yourself from germs at a party by avoiding the . . .
A. chips and dip.
B. fried foods.
C. cocktails.

The answer is A. Think twice before you reach for chips and dip or, at the very least, use serving utensils to help yourself. If you’re hosting the party, place at least one serving spoon, fork or pair of tongs with every dish, and spear hors d’oeuvres with toothpicks before serving. Cocktails generally don’t transmit viruses (unless the bartender sneezes on your glass).

6. Antibiotics are . . .
A. a cure for the common cold.
B. useless for treating colds or flu.
C. recommended treatment for severe cold and flu symptoms.

The answer is B. Antibiotic medications do nothing to fight the viral infections that cause colds and flu. They only work on infections caused by bacteria, such as strep throat. If you have a cold or the flu, asking your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic won’t help. In fact, it could make you more vulnerable to strep and other infections in the future.

7. Flu shots . . .
A. are different every year.
B. can cause the flu in some people.
C. protect you from flu for six months to a year.

The answer is C. Flu shots take about two weeks to kick in and typically protect you for six months to a year. Each vaccine protects against the three strains of flu most prevalent in a particular year. That means the formula can vary, but it doesn’t always. This season’s, for instance, is the same as last year’s.

8. Which of the following should you NOT take to ease cold and flu symptoms?
A. over-the-counter pain relievers
B. antihistamines
C. decongestants

The answer is B. Antihistamines dry out membranes and prevent mucus flow. Decongestants are better choices as they shrink swollen membranes inside the nose, and pain relievers can reduce fever and ease aches.

9. To avoid colds and flu . . .
A. stay indoors as much as possible.
B. exercise.
C. ignore your symptoms and carry on as usual.

The answer is B. Evidence suggests that moderate exercise helps fight off colds and flu. Staying indoors won’t protect you—and, besides, fresh air is good for you! Ignoring symptoms is a bad idea: Not only will you feel terrible, you’ll increase your chances of infecting others. Rest, and be patient—you’ll feel better soon.